If you have serious credit problems, you may be past the talking stage. A collection agency may already be at your door. You should know that you have a number of rights in this situation, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Collectors may not harass or abuse you.
- Collectors may not lie to you or use false statements.
- Collectors may not engage in unfair practices.
- They are not permitted to contact you at unreasonable hours, unless you agree to be contacted at those times.
- They must send you a written notice telling you the amount you owe.
- If you send collectors a written denial of the debt, they may not contact you until they provide you with proof of the debt.
- If you have an attorney, the collection agency cannot contact anyone other than the attorney to obtain information about you.
- Collectors do have the right to contact you, at reasonable hours, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax.
- If a collector has violated the law, you have the right to sue. The lawsuit must commence within one year of the cause for action.
You can report troubles with collectors to the Attorney General's office in your state, or to the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, DC.